I Remember When

Photo taken on 09/11/2017

I remember when I was a young girl attending the birthday party of a friend. I gave her a shiny red wallet, and in perpetual kid style, her adorable little sister piped up and said innocently, “But Mom!  She already has one like that!”  Her sweet mother was totally mortified and responded instantly with a “Shhh!!!” I was fine. There was cake, and I was at a party. That party was held at her home in the neighborhood shown above. As of today, the whole area looks like this.

Same neighborhood shown here

I have known that girl all of my life and am blessed to call her one of my very best friends. We have laughed and cried together more times than I can count.  We walked by each other in First Communion as little girls, and we walked (and danced and ran) by each other as we proceeded to break one church rule after another throughout graduate school as not so little girls. And now, even more years later, her childhood home (the current residence of her parents) has been sacrificed to the flood. They can’t even go in for an extensive period of time to salvage whatever remains because of the health risks.  My heart is broken for her and for her family whom I love.

The home above is found one neighborhood over. I remember spending the night at this girl’s house and watching Gene Wilder light up the role of Will Wonka for the very first time.  That movie has grown to be one of my absolute favorites, and I, too, still want an oompa loompa nooooow.  That girl had the meanest cat you ever knew. They literally warned us by saying, “Whatever you do, just don’t make eye contact.”  I did this. Once. And baby, they weren’t kidding. Nothing says awesome like being chased by an insane hissing mini-beast with claws.

That same child attended my own birthday party months later. My parents decided to give me a genuine Texas birthday party, and my father was stuck driving a pack of wild six-year-old girls to a little local rodeo a few towns over.  My parents still laugh at the way that girl jumped out of my dad’s car and yelled out, “Mom he got a speeding ticket!!  He got a speeding ticket!!!” as she ran to her parents after the party was over.  It was true.  He did.

On the way to the rodeo, he first had to drive through one town. Of course I never could have known it then, but decades later, I would own a home there.  Even more years later, homes a few doors down from my former residence there would flood.  The image above would be their view.

This is one of the many shelters set up in the area to house evacuees, but this one held a special place in my heart. This is our local high school, and my own children will be there in a few short years.

My father drove through one more town along the way before reaching the rodeo scene.  Had I been a resident of this town then, I would have warned him.  “Don’t speed here!  I mean it.  The local PoPo won’t dig it.”  Unfortunately for him, I did not live here at that point.  He did speed.  They did not dig it.

I do live here now, and none of us has ever forgotten that event.  My husband had to learn the “seriously – no speeding” lesson organically, but I’m hoping that the message has since been received.  My only concern is that I am taunting fate by writing this paragraph, so I expect to be updating you regarding my shiny new traffic citation any day now.

A few blocks over from here (above), my father took all of us to the rodeo.  I imagine that it was like trying to corral a pack of monkeys for him, but to me, it was a blast, and it was incredibly special.

The little Simonton rodeo closed down several years ago, and I wonder how many people still remember that it was ever even there.  Nevertheless the town continues to grow.  Our kids share classrooms with their kids, and we share our hopes and dreams for them all.  Many of those residents are people we now call friends.  The scene is the same there, too.  Soggy wallboard, sopping wet carpet, destroyed furniture, tattered clothing, and shattered memories all heaped in a mountain on the yard and street.

My heart aches for them all.  I feel such sadness for their loss of all that can never be replaced, and that sense of sadness immediately strikes another chord within me given that it is 9/11.

One of my dear co-workers lost her brother to that senseless tragedy.  She has such strength and tremendous grace in the face of that immeasurable loss.  I can’t fathom the terrible ache she must feel, but she keeps going anyway.  Another darling friend is in the midst of handling everything that goes with learning that a parent is terminally ill.  She is heart-broken, but she, too, is incredibly strong.  She will hurt, but she will keep going as well.  As humans incessantly moving through our lifelong journey, that’s just what we do.

We are perpetually tied together in an intricate invisible web that weaves throughout the layers of time.  Sometimes the sadness seems so heavy and widespread, but we must keep moving forward and we must keep looking up.  There are more sights to see and more beautiful experiences to be had.

Take a deep breath.  Be thankful that you can. Send love to those around you.  And let them love you in return.

Blessings and love always – Joanna

 ***Please note that this post was not written as an effort to garner sympathy for myself, and I ask very sincerely that you don’t send that my way.  I wrote this to show how the people suffering these hurts are not faceless strangers on a sensationalized news channel but rather neighbors and friends we have known for years.  I’m greatly saddened by the challenges they are facing, but my family is not personally dealing with the loss of our home or the death or terminal illness of a close family member.

If you feel called to do so, I would ask that you send your hopes and prayers for healing and peace to those who truly need them.  They are all around us, and they are all around you.  If you are the one in that position of need right now, I send my love and prayers to you.  Stay strong and please keep going.  It will get better.  The clouds may obscure the light, but the sun will always be shining behind them.  Sometimes we just need a little more time to let that light peek through.

Thank you to Heidi, Kristie, Kim and my mom for sharing these photos with me.


50 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tracy
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 01:40:21

    So much loss and heartache. 😦 Big hugs, lovely X


    • MoJo
      Sep 12, 2017 @ 01:44:02

      My sadness is for them more than myself. 9/11 just adds another layer to it.


      • Tracy
        Sep 12, 2017 @ 01:50:49

        We never forget. It was a terrible day to watch it unfolding on TV. I can’t imagine how it felt to be there. Our default setting is love but too many people don’t understand it. They turn away from it and do terrible things. X

  2. boundlessblessingsblog
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 03:30:34

    A great read, and feel so sorry for all the devastation and have courage. Praying for all those who are affected by the floods.


  3. Writer Lori
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 04:05:46

    No matter how many images I see, I still can’t get my head around the devastation. Hang in there, Jo. So many people are sending strength and love your way. Xoxo


  4. Hussein Allam
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 06:11:48

    This is really so sad


  5. janieleeds
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 06:20:27

    Sending prayers as always to you and to all others xo


  6. overthehillontheyellowbrickroad
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 06:28:21

    This post took my breath away.


  7. misifusa
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 06:48:50

    I have tears in my eyes. I can’t get my head around the photos – just so unbelievable. I’m grateful you and your family are safe. Sending prayers and love to everyone, especially you dear girl.


  8. carolrolke
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 06:56:43

    Texas Strong! Yes, sending prayers up for healing for all those suffering loss and hope for those who feel they may never know what that feels like in the midst of such tremendous heartache. Thank you for sharing.


  9. Jan
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 08:11:22

    We just spent a wild night as Irma passed through our city with sustained winds of 30 – 35 miles per hour. We have two HUGE pine trees and my husband stayed up all night on watch. Me, I just lay in bed listening to the roar and being so very scared. I can’t IMAGINE what Houston has been through and with Harvey and those now devastated by Irma. My heart goes out to ALL victims of these vicious storms. Bless you and all YOU have done to keep us informed about your friends and family. Blessings a love !! jan


    • MoJo
      Sep 12, 2017 @ 20:09:32

      Those pine trees are nerve wracking! They bend in the wind like they are made of rubber. I’m so sorry that it was such a scary night for you honey.


  10. E
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 08:13:10

    Thanks for bringing reality to us with honesty and compassion. You’re right that these are lives, losses and faces the news often fails to validate. But you did. ❤️


    • MoJo
      Sep 12, 2017 @ 20:14:09

      Thank you darling. Even though it breaks my heart for them, I know that I can’t possibly understand how they truly feel. Loss is strange. We empathize and sympathize, but I don’t think we ever really know until we live it.


  11. Blog Andrew
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 09:30:44

    A post full of humanity 🙂 , sending you my best wishes.


  12. wakinguponthewrongsideof50
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 09:42:38

    So so beautiful! Thank you for sharing all this! I know you don’t want sympathy, but my heart breaks just a little for the things lost, mostly that little bit of innocence left! My thoughts, love and prayers go out to all of you as you recover!


  13. slmret
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 10:31:20

    Amazing photos of such devastation! I’m gladyou and your family are safe and can enjoy the memories tht happened in these places!


  14. magickmermaid
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 16:26:50

    Beautifully written. Sending healing energy to all!


  15. denaespieces
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 18:57:24

    Thank you for sharing this.


  16. MoJo
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 20:15:26

    Please don’t be sad for me. Really. I’m not the one starting over. But I appreciate your kindness my friend.


  17. roseelaineblog
    Sep 13, 2017 @ 04:22:11

    possessions can be replaced , it’s so sad , but you will always have those happy memories. Lots of love ❤️


  18. The Thrifty Campers
    Sep 13, 2017 @ 09:38:11

    So very sad, my heart goes out to those who were effected by this.


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  20. I tripped over a stone.
    Sep 16, 2017 @ 08:47:32

    I hear you… sad, heartfelt, and yet somehow stirring happy memories among the grief. ~Kim


  21. mehak22
    Nov 21, 2017 @ 10:49:07

    nice pics👌👌


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